Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hillary Clinton Sees California as Key

Hillary Clinton's sees California's February 5th primary as the linchpin of the 2008 nomination process:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is anticipating that she will not have to wait long to become the Democratic presidential nominee, privately telling campaign donors in California that the race "is all going to be over by Feb. 5."

Though the focus of the 2008 presidential campaign is on Iowa and New Hampshire, the states with the earliest contests, Clinton suggested that California's influence might be larger than was commonly believed.

"You've got to realize that people in California will start voting absentee about the time Iowa and New Hampshire happen," the senator from New York said at a closed-door fundraising reception Tuesday evening. "In fact, more people will have voted absentee by the middle of January than will have voted in New Hampshire, Iowa and a lot of other places combined."

On Friday, California absentee ballots began going out to members of the military and others living abroad.

California's remaining absentee ballots will be sent out beginning Jan. 7, one day before the New Hampshire primary and four days after the Iowa precinct caucuses.

California holds its primary Feb. 5, along with 21 other states and American Samoa.

"California, Texas, New York, New Jersey -- you've got way more than half the country," Clinton said at the fundraising event at a Sacramento restaurant. "And we're going to be ready, thanks to all of you. We're running a vigorous campaign here in California."
It seems Clinton's pretty confident on her chances. Rightly justified? Not to Andrew Malcom at Times' blog:

Hillary Clinton's state poll numbers are heading south for the winter. Barack Obama reaped a publicity, fundraising, volunteer and poll bonanza over the weekend with his Oprah Offensive. There are reports of internal Clinton staff dissension. The Republicans didn't even mention her in their debate yesterday.

One of her chief financial bundlers has been indicted. She continues stonewalling over release of her first lady papers which would -- or perhaps would not -- support her claim of sufficient experience to become Chief Executive. Two Iowa staffers got canned for forwarding e-mails alleging Obama is Muslim. She got caught planting questions at a public forum.

With precise Clintonian calculation, her New Hampshire co-chair went blabbing about Obama's past drug use yesterday, saying he feared Republicans would make it an election issue next year but actually doing that himself right now. Gee, must have been a slip of the tongue.

Her popular husband keeps talking about himself on the campaign trail and stepping all over her campaign's messages and making corrections that dominate another day's news and then claiming, typically, that the press misconstrued what he said. After an emergency planning meeting in Chicago, she's pumping more staff into Iowa, where Obama is so well organized, and even took her mother there on the campaign trail.

All the while reminding us of the soapy, sloppy diversions from the past Clinton years that she proposes to bring back....

As late as it seems after all these months of campaigning, it's still early. Polls show upwards of half the Democrats remain undecided. But if she loses Iowa or wins only narrowly, how long can Clinton keep talking inevitability? Will she have to become the second Clinton comeback kid?
Well, maybe California will be a kingmaker (queenmaker?) this year after all (or frontloading might have something going for itl).